July 11, 2003

Ringo.com: Who Are You?

And now, just when you thought there wouldn't be any more clones of Friendster and Ryze, here comes Ringo.com, a website that encourages you to "expand your circle of friends."

I heard about Ringo.com from Marc Canter's blog entry which was in turn about Clay Shirky reviewing Ringo.com at Corante. I agree with the concerns Clay and Marc raise about this new website.

I've got an additional concern about Ringo.com: who's behind it? No way to know, since they don't identify themselves. Go to Ringo.com's About Us page, and there's nothing there about who the founders are, who's behind the company, where it's located, nothing. Try the Contact Us link, and you get a form to fill out rather than an email address.

Think about it. Ringo.com is a website designed to bring people together, expand circles of friends, and generally be an "easy way to meet people." How does it do this? By inviting people to join as members. What's required to join? Personal information, including First and Last Names, an Email Address, and Gender. Oh. Wait. There's more. Once past the first short signup page, Ringo.com hits you with a much more detailed page. Now they want Date of Birth, Marital Status, Children, Occupation, Country, and Zip Code.

Don't you think that the people behind Ringo.com should identify themselves, and practice what they preach? Does Ringo.com really think people are going to cough up all their personal information when they don't know who the hell they're coughing it up to?

The site's got a copyright notice that points to a company called Birthday Alarm, Inc. Okay, so follow that link and surprise, surprise: it's a mystery site as well, with an equally cryptic About Us page.

The privacy policy and the terms of use pages are of no help either, except at least we can infer (from looking at the Governing Law clause) that these people are located in California.

The only other hint is that the site has a "Designed by" credit linking to SowdenDesign (which is a beautiful website, by the way). A Whois of Ringo.com reveals that the domain is owned by Morgan Sowden, San Francisco, CA. So Morgan: are you Ringo.com?

UPDATE, 10:30pm PST:: I emailed Morgan Sowden to ask him about the questions raised in this blog. Here's his reply:

Hi Brian,

No big mystery intended.

Ringo was founded by Michael and Paul Birch, two brothers from London, and myself, also English but raised in Milan. We are in our early thirties, love developing websites, and live in the Bay Area. Over the years we have worked on a number of projects, including:

www.BirthdayAlarm.com
www.LemonLink.com
www.BabySittingCircle.com
www.RudeMountain.com
www.iReadTheNewsToday.com

We're tireless entrepreneurs hoping to do well in life :)

You got as far as finding my name in WHO IS, a quick Google search would probably quickly lead you to my bio at www.morgansowden.com.

Thanks for the nice blog, and feel free to email me for further clarification.

Warm Regards
Morgan

Posted by brian at July 11, 2003 08:11 PM

Comments

Coolio dude - thanks for the research. I also liked the design and ALSO tried to track them down. I just wasn't as sucessful as you.

:-)

BTW - what do YOU do?

Posted by: Marc Canter at July 12, 2003 08:04 AM

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